Breastfeeding 101: What You Can Eat and Drink

Breastfeeding 101: What You Can Eat and Drink

If you’re an expectant mother, you’ve probably already considered whether or not you plan on breastfeeding once your little one enters the world. Breastfeeding can depend on a lot of different variables: health, physical abilities and even personal preferences for both you and baby. Breastfeeding also requires a lot of responsibility on the mother’s part—including what she consumes. When you breastfeed, expect whatever you eat or drink to seep into the breast milk later on.

If you breastfeed your baby, it can be challenging to navigate what you can or can’t eat, and what affects your little one. To help clear things up, welcome to Breastfeeding 101: an introduction to what you can eat and drink while breastfeeding. Today we’ll dive into some of the good and bad things you can consume while breastfeeding as a new mom.

While you were pregnant, you carefully avoided a laundry list of foods for nine long months, to help keep your baby safe. So, after the baby’s born, it’s completely naturally to feel like you must still avoid those foods. Fortunately, there aren’t any foods you absolutely need to avoid while breastfeeding.

According to Lindsey Shipley, RN, a childbirth educator and founder of Lactation Link, an online resource for breastfeeding education:

There are actually zero foods that every breastfeeding woman should avoid completely. Most breastfeeding mothers can continue to eat the foods they normally do. Moderation is important here, just like at any other time of your life. A well-balanced diet is important to help both you and baby feel your best.

Once you give birth, you can often go back to your regular diet before becoming pregnant, for the most part. However, while there aren’t any foods or drinks you absolutely cannot consume, there are some which might be better to avoid. While some strongly flavored foods may change the taste of your milk, most babies do enjoy a variety of breast milk flavors. The important thing is to monitor what foods your baby enjoys or doesn’t enjoy during breastfeeding.

As BabyCenter says, “Occasionally a baby will be fussy at the breast or gassy after you eat a particular food. If you notice a pattern, avoid that food for a few days. To test whether that food really was the cause, reintroduce it once and see if there’s an effect.” Just like us, babies have their own food preferences and foods which upset their sensitive stomachs. If you want to make the breastfeeding process as simple as possible, watch your little one and see what he or she enjoys most.

Some mothers have reported babies often object to foods like:

●Chocolate

●Spices

●Citrus fruits

●Strawberries

●Kiwifruit

●“Gassy” veggies

While you don’t have to avoid certain foods or drink, there are also some you should limit while breastfeeding. When consumed in large quantities, these foods and drinks can affect the baby’s health and even impact your milk supply. Some foods and drinks to partially avoid while nursing include:

Alcohol. After nine months without drinking, you might want an alcoholic beverage or two. Even though you can drink alcohol while breastfeeding, you must also be cautious, because alcohol can pass through the breast milk into your baby’s system. KidsHealth says, “Drinking in moderation—one or two drinks within a 24-hour period—is fine, as long as you wait before feeding your baby.” It takes approximately two hours for one drink to be metabolized and no longer a concern during nursing. So, if you choose to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, be sure to plan accordingly with your little one’s feeding schedule to stay safe.

Caffeine. If you’re worried about staying awake after all those late nights with the baby, don’t be. Fortunately, you can consume caffeine while breastfeeding, just in moderate doses. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than three cups of a caffeinated beverage per day, and your little one will be just fine. If you’re still concerned, just enjoy your coffee or tea after you finish your breastfeeding session, and keep the caffeine entirely out of the breast milk.

Fish. If you’re a fish-lover, congrats! You can enjoy a delicious seafood meal while breastfeeding. According to WebMD, fish is a great source of protein and omega-3s, which both you and baby need. However, virtually all fish do contain some mercury, which can affect your baby’s brain development. So, be sure to keep your fish consumption minimal, with no more than 12 ounces of fish per week, or two meals of cooked seafood, at about six ounces each. Choose fish that are low in mercury, like salmon, tilapia and trout, and avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, which have high levels of mercury.

Choosing what to eat and drink while breastfeeding can be a tricky thing to navigate, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you moderate riskier foods and monitor what your baby reacts to, you can enjoy most of your favorite foods and drinks with little to no concern. Make safe choices for your baby, and see how your little one grows happy and healthy.